How do you get to heaven? How do you get to God? How do you get mercy and forgiveness? How do you get whatever it is that our hearts are yearning for? Jesus knows. He’s clever about stuff like that.
Be born from above (John 3:3). The classic answer to the age-old question. And it’s still a good one. Be new. Be new from above. Change.
Be spiritually destitute (Matthew 5:3). Not nearly so classic, but it’s still what Jesus said. It’s neat that he doesn’t say the kingdom of heaven is for people who know they are poor in spirit, but for those who simply are. Only the spiritually impoverished are eligible for what Jesus has to offer. Only the broken. Only the screw-ups. Thank God for that.
Be pure in heart (Matthew 5:8). Is that all?
Be more righteous than religious people (Matthew 5:20). At first glance this seems tough. I mean, look at all the stuff religious people do to stay righteous! But, when we take a first and second glance, we see that religious does not mean righteous. Religious does not mean good. In fact, I’m tempted to say that religion and righteousness are mutually exclusive.
Do the will of God (Matthew 7:21). And then Jesus went and lived a life that shone with the will of God. Thanks for the good example! I’ll need a hand with trying it out, though.
Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, invite the homeless into your house (Matthew 25:31-40). This is one of those sayings where I want to say ‘Hold up, Jesus! That doesn’t sound like justification by faith! What do you mean by that?’ But I’m not really going to ask Jesus that. I think he’d rather me assume that he meant what he said. I know I like it when people assume I mean what I say. I figure I ought to extend the same courtesy to Jesus.
Obey the commandments, sell your stuff, follow Jesus (Matthew 19:16-21). Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. What am I supposed to do with this one? I want to say that you were joking with this guy! I want to say that you were trying to be really subtle and, in your subtlety, didn’t actually mean what you said. But how can I say that? I cannot assume that you would be so subtle as to mean something other that what you said, can I?
Go through Jesus (John 14:6). Jesus is the enabler. He’s not the obstacle in the way. He’s the unlocked door. He’s the moving staircase. He’s how you get there. Yay for that.
There’s more, y’know. Jesus talked about how to be spiritually successful a lot. I wonder if all the different way he talked about it are really just the one way looked at from different points of view. In my circles we focus on rebirth and belief. But what is rebirth if there is no re-lifestyle to prove it? Maybe feeding the poor is a part of rebirth. Maybe shedding the superfluous is the arm of faith.
But do you know what he never said? He never said to invite him into your heart. He never suggested to pray a prayer and sign a card. No matter how you slice it or define it, the Jesus way is a lifestyle, not a conversion. It may look like a conversion. It may start with a conversion. But, following the language Jesus used, it’s something that starts and lasts and grows and moves until we die.
Great thoughts Matt!
I think we can find the answer in Jesus’ first sermon He makes it clear and it seems it was a repeated message by the words “from that time on ”
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
When the “word became flesh” it was for a very clear purpose John tells us why “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Peter makes it clear what the fleshly body bore.
1 Peter 2:24
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
If I were drowning on a lake, what would I need in order to be saved? Would a rope do? Throwing me a rope would be of no help to me unless there was someone holding onto the other end pulling me in.
If I was crying save me, save me and someone came by and said “save yourself” that wouldn’t be of any help to me, they would just be mocking me.
So why would anybody tell me things that I need to do, in order to saved? If I could save myself I wouldn’t need saving!
No thanks I will put my trust in the guy who has thrown me the life line and trust that He will pull me in safe to shore!!!
That’s it that’s all no more no less.
Either someone repents and believes that Jesus took their place suffering the wrath of God for their personal sins against a Holy God or the wrath of God still abides on them.
36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Why won’t people be in Heaven?
19 And this is the condemnation,
that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”